Created by Aaron Basil of iDev2 (makers of ABC Letters, ABC Sign, ABC Words, Animal Farm, Sound Box, and Tell Time), iSign Lite is a free, introductory version of the larger iSign. Direct descendants of ABC Sign, an application that teaches the American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet to children, iSign and iSign Lite take a step further using 3D animated characters to demonstrate a full range of ASL signs.
Using a diverse selection of 25 signs from iSign’s 800 sign vocabulary, iSign Lite displays the full functionality of its larger parent program. The program itself is fairly simple with each word matched to an animated gesture.
One important, though possibly overlooked, feature is that the users vantage point changes with each word so that all the elements of the sign, the arrangement of the fingers or smaller motions of the hands, are clearly visible.
For example, with the signs “happy” or “cry” we are face to face with the animated character while for “few” we look down on the character from above to view the palm of his hand.
Along with having a search feature for individual words, iSign Lite arranges words in a number of different ways: alphabetically, categorically, or by favorites. The arrangement by category is particularly helpful as it allows you to instantly access signs relating to a particular situation, much like a helpful phrase section in the back of any language guide. While most of the headings in this feature are straightforward — “Animals”, “Colors,” “Numbers” — there are some that are a little more abstract — “Feedback & Permission,” “Relational Words.”
iSign Lite also provides a Quiz section. In this feature an animated character gestures the sign and the user is given a choice of three different words to match accordingly. Here you can choose to be tested on all the signs or just the signs chosen as Favorites — an important feature when considering the 800 signs available in the full iSign.
Since its debut, iSign and iSign Lite have received very positive feedback from young and old alike including support from many like Jeff Bravin, Director of Special Projects for the American School for the Deaf. A strong proponent of the application, Bravin describes iSign as “a wonderful introduction to American Sign Language.”
For a closer look, check out a full video of iSign Lite.